"...I'm tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it. I'm pulling back the curtain because I don't want anyone else to get blindsided."
— Ryan Holiday, Trust Me, I'm Lying
As far as the internet is concerned, six years is an eternity. That's how long it's been since Ryan Holiday confessed his web of media manipulations done on behalf of his clients (Dov Charney of American Apparel, authors Tucker Max and Robert Greene, and who knows who else). And yet, rereading Trust Me, I'm Lying this past week, it's more relevant than ever. Fake Amazon reviews by the hundreds of thousands, vigilante billionaires conspiring to legally destroy publishers, a master manipulator leading the free world, Kiki fail compilations...the list goes on.
Part-confession, part-how-to, this book is a brutal pulling-back of the curtains behind which our news is made. One of the recurring themes throughout the book is understanding the economic incentives of the online publishing world.
Our society seems much more aware of Fake News, outrage porn, snark and trolls, bribed reviews, and the poor state of journalism that it did just six years earlier. This is still a (potentially protective, potentially nefarious) blueprint in broad strokes for how to understand all this digital unreality we've collectively built. Use this knowledge for offense or defense. Holiday says he's thrown in the towel and is playing a new game, but that's exactly what he would say, right? [JG]
WHO IS RYAN HOLIDAY?
Ryan Holiday is a marketer and bestselling author of books on media, entrepreneurship, ancient Stoic philosophy, American culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into twenty languages and appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Fast Company, The New York Observer, and others.
I first encountered Ryan by way of the Chase Jarvis Live show, and since have discovered an incredible amount of books from other authors and creatives, including bestselling author Robert Greene, CEO of Breather Julian Smith, human guinea pig Tim Ferriss. I'm also a fan of four other books by Ryan:
QUOTES I LOVED
6. "Controversial ideas are the victims of snark."
5. "If I master the rules that govern blogs, I can be the master of all they determine. It was, essentially, access to a fiat over culture."
4. "The constraints of blogging create artificial content, which is made real and impacts the outcome of real events."
3. "Behind the scenes, I work to crank up the violence of articles, relying on scandal, conflict, triviality, titillation, and dogmatism. Whatever will ensure transmission."
2. "In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we neither seek nor want honesty or reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion."
1. "Forcing someone to dispute a preposterously untrue allegation is just a much slander as making the accusation. The types of stories that scream out to be written and broken before they are fully written are precisely the types of stories that cannot be taken back. The scandals, the controversies, and the shocking announcements—the ones I have shown in this book to be so easy to fabricate or manipulative—cannot be unwritten or walked back."
"To those of you who I have burned in this book, who I have hurt or taken aim at or criticized or made fun of, I'm sorry. Trust me, I'm lying when I say that. It's just that you deserve better. And the second you stop and walk away, the monster will start to wither, and you will be more happy again. I confess all I have confessed in order to make that an option."
— Ryan Holiday, Trust Me, I'm Lying
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